The Little Boy-Christ Child-El Niño

It seems that this year everyone is expecting and many hoping for a strong El Niño to develop off the California coast. Part of that sentence is wrong. El Niños don't develop off the California coast. They develop along the equator in the eastern Pacific Ocean and the resulting effects push north and south along the coasts of North and South America.

Sea surface temperatuers in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean during the very strong 1997 El Nino event.

So, what is going to happen this year? Well, a few months ago meteorologists began to take note of sea surface height conditions (measured via satellite) that were strikingly similar to what we saw in the months preceding the two last big El Niños (1997-’98 and 1982-’83). This led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to issue an official El Niño watch in early March. Since then, those conditions don’t seem to have gone away – and so the likelihood of El Niño forming continues to rise…

That whole paragraph was written last year on June 18, 2014 in a Grist.com article. As everyone knows that possible El Niño fizzled out. The article states that european scientists thought there was an 90% change of El Niño forming. So much for predictions I thought. In fact there are many confusing ideas about El Niños that people have in their heads. I was so convinced that my “idea” of an El Niño was going to happen last year that I collected numerous articles about when, where, and how and deleted them when it didn't happen. That was dumb because it actually did happen.

The long-anticipated El Niño has finally arrived, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. In their updated monthly outlook released today (March 5, 2015), forecasters issued an El Niño Advisory to declare the arrival of the ocean-atmospheric phenomenon marked by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean near the equator.

Due to the weak strength of the El Niño, widespread or significant global weather pattern impacts are not anticipated. However, certain impacts often associated with El Niño may appear this spring in parts of the Northern Hemisphere, such as wetter-than-normal conditions along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Note the “wetter-than-normal conditions along the U.S. Gulf Coast” and think Texas.

RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN / AP

So we really did have an El Niño and nobody really knew because of the confusing nature of El Niños.

Will an El Niño actually help break the California drought? Maybe it will and maybe it won't. It might depend on it's strength. The website, The Myths and Realities of El Niño, explains,

 

However, not all El Niños have the same strength or location, and consequently their impacts can vary significantly. In general, the larger the area and the greater the warming of the eastern Pacific's equatorial waters, the greater the impact on other regions. Since 1950 there have been 23(24?) years during which the equatorial Pacific has warmed enough to be classified as an El Niño. There have been a total of eight seasons beginning in years (1952, 1953, 1958, 1969, 1976, 1977, 2004, 2006, 2013) classified as “weak” El Niños, eight years (1951, 1963, 1968, 1986, 1991, 1994, 2002, 2009) as “moderate”, four years (1957, 1965, 1972, 1987) as “strong” and two years (1982, 1997) as “very strong” El Niños.

Will an El Niño bring lot's of rain to California. Maybe it will and maybe it won't.

Historical records for the past six plus decades for Central California, including the SF Bay Area, show that during the twenty-two El Niño events the rainfall has been roughly above normal (i.e., > 120%) half the time and below normal (see Climatology of El Niño Events and California Precipitation]

Over the same span, Northern California had three wet years during the five strong events, with five above-normal seasons during the seventeen weak-to-moderate El Niños.

Southern California showed more of a wet bias during strong El Niños with above-normal rain in four of the five seasons, near normal the fifth year. During weak to moderate events Southern California precipitation was above normal six of the 17 seasons, near normal six seasons and below normal the remaining five years.

The bottom line is that California can get wet during El Niño, but not always. As a matter of fact, the California drought in the 1976-77 winter was during a weak El Niño. It is important to keep in mind that El Niño is not the only thing happening in the atmosphere and that other patterns can either enhance or detract from its overall impact.

Will an El Niño cause massive damage to California due to flooding. Once again maybe it will or maybe it won't.

It is just as likely that California will have significant flooding in a non-El Niño year. Of the 10 costliest flood years in California since 1950, only four happened during a season when there was an El Niño. Two others occurred during seasons with La Niña, and the final four were when the temperature of the tropical Pacific was near normal…

The major weather pattern that causes flooding in California is when a strong surge of subtropical moisture dumps copious amounts of rain over a portion of California for five to seven days. These are so-called Atmospheric Rivers (“Pineapple connection”) and they are slightly more prevalent during years when there is no El Niño.

Where did El Niños get such a big and scary reputation? I think it's Chris Farley's fault.

It a little late in this post but let's give a simple explanation of what an El Niño is.

    Usually, the wind blows strongly from east to west along the equator in the Pacific. This actually piles up water (about half a meter's worth) in the western part of the Pacific. In the eastern part, deeper water (which is colder than the sun-warmed surface water) gets pulled up from below to replace the water pushed west. So, the normal situation is warm water (about 30 C) in the west, cold (about 22 C) in the east.

    In an El Niño, the winds pushing that water around get weaker. As a result, some of the warm water piled up in the west slumps back down to the east, and not as much cold water gets pulled up from below. Both these tend to make the water in the eastern Pacific warmer, which is one of the hallmarks of an El Niño.

    But it doesn't stop there. The warmer ocean then affects the winds–it makes the winds weaker! So if the winds get weaker, then the ocean gets warmer, which makes the winds get weaker, which makes the ocean get warmer … this is called a positive feedback, and is what makes an El Niño grow.

So the question of the day is will this year's El Niño be a super strong one. Many people think so but are hedging their bets. What's the current prediction?

Nearly all models predict El Niño to continue into the Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, with many multi-model averages predicting a strong event at its peak strength (3-month values of the Niño-3.4 index of +1.5oC or greater; Fig. 6). At this time, the forecaster consensus is in favor of a significant El Niño in excess of +1.5oC in the Niño-3.4 region. Overall, there is a greater than 90% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, and around an 80% chance it will last into early spring 2016.

Some are predicting the strongest El Niño ever recorded. The eastern Pacific Ocean has already seen some strange occurrences this year with record warm temperatures, record sea lion and Cassin's Auklet die-offs and strange marine life showing up.

Credit: NOAA Fisheries West Coast/Flickr

Over 50 birds doc­u­mented by a COASST team out­side of Lin­coln City, OR. © COASST

There are some things that an El Niño can bring and one of these is higher sea levels.

The El Niño event underway in the Pacific Ocean is impacting temperature and weather patterns around the world. But its effects aren’t confined to the atmosphere: A new study has found that the cyclical climate phenomenon can ratchet up sea levels off the West Coast by almost 8 inches over just a few seasons.

When water warms, it expands; in the case of the oceans, that means higher sea levels. This is part of what is causing the global-warming linked long-term rise in the oceans, as they absorb much of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. (Melting land-bound glaciers are also contributing to overall sea level rise.)

The clearest signals from El Niño on coastal sea levels were found along the West Coast; the find wasn’t surprising given that El Niño is a Pacific-based phenomenon.

On Hamlington’s charts, for example, the very strong El Niño events of 1982-83 and 1997-98 clearly jump out in the West Coast data. While the tide gauge and satellite data largely agreed, the satellites seemed to slightly underestimate the El Niño-related rise.

Unsurprisingly the biggest seasonal effects on sea level came during the fall and winter months, when El Niño events typically reach their peak.

The sea level rise signature from El Nino events during the four seasons (top) and the satellite and tide gauge records showing spikes during El Nino years, particularly in 1982 and 1997.

Credit: Hamlington, et al./JGR: Oceans

Sea-level measurements from Fort Point in San Francisco since 1900. This is the longest continuous sea-level record for any site on the West Coast of North America.

Source: US Geological Survey, 1999. USGS Library Call Number: (200) F327 no. 99-175.

From the above chart you can see a rising sea level during normal seasons already. Add in an El Niño year and you can have problems. This is an excellent link that take you to the Ocean Health Index site.

Construction of private homes on the frontal dunes. Homes in central Monterey Bay were threatened by erosion during the high tides, elevated sea levels, and large storm wave of the 1983 El Niño.

Photo courtesy of Gary Griggs, University of California, Santa Cruz

 

A huge wave breaks over the seawall at Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge and crashes onto a parked car on February 1, 1998. Throughout the following week, high winds and heavy rains combined with abnormally high tides to wreak havoc in the San Francisco Bay region. Inset photo shows a worker hauling sandbags through floodwaters in Sausalito, north of the Golden Gate Bridge, on February 7. U.S. Geological Survey scientists have shown that these extreme conditions were the direct result of the 1997—98 El Niño atmospheric phenomenon. (Photos by Lea Suzuki and Vince Maggiora / copyright San Francisco Chronicle.)

El Niño conditions, because of the higher sea levels, cause problems for the endangered Snowy Plover (in addition to it's many other problems) and sand loving shorebirds.

The impacts of El Niño (ENSO) winter storm events have not been mentioned in earlier plover monitoring reports, but the resultant beach erosion could be a contributing factor in reducing available nesting habitat. It may also affect over winter survival rates of potential breeding adults, thus causing a decline in breeding population the following summer. Figure 2 shows a recurring pattern of decreased total number of breeders in years following ENSO events. This trend would support the need for large scale habitat restoration at Point Reyes and further investigation into the impacts of climate change on Western Snowy Plovers.

This study shows problems for other shorebirds.

During an El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event (1997–1998), the extent of sandy habitat was greatly reduced and intertidal habitat was mostly converted to rocky substrate. The overall abundance of shorebirds and the mean abundance of some common species (e.g. sanderling) were depressed, and an uncommon species (surfbird, A. virgata) was unusually abundant during the ENSO event. In summary, the results suggest that sandy beaches are important habitat for many species of shorebirds…

There is further proof that El Niño conditions also affect migratory birds.

We found that migratory birds that over-wintered in South America experienced significantly drier environments during El Niño years, as reflected by reduced Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values, and arrived at stopover sites in reduced energetic condition during spring migration. During El Niño years migrants were also more likely to stopover immediately along the northern Gulf coast of the southeastern U.S. after crossing the Gulf of Mexico in small suboptimal forest patches where food resources are lower and migrant density often greater than larger more contiguous forests further inland.

It doesn't appear to me that California can handle a strong El Niño that involves strong storms with lot's of rain. Recently the remnants of Hurricane Dolores caused some damage in Southern California.

A rare and powerful rainstorm has drenched parched southern California, simultaneously wreaking havoc on major roadways and power lines while helping firefighters gain control of a wildfire that broke out on Friday.

Heavy rains on Saturday and Sunday closed beaches and knocked out power for many southern California residents. The storm rained out a Los Angeles Angels home game for the first time in two decades. The San Diego Padres home game has also been postponed due to inclement weather.

A bridge along Interstate 10, a major freeway connecting southern California and Arizona, washed out on Sunday amid the deluge in the desert. The collapse injured one driver and left hundreds of other cars stranded. It also cut off traffic in both directions, brining travel to a grinding halt.

summer storm delivered rain, thunder and lightning to central and southern California on Saturday, leading to beach closures, flash floods and outages that left tens of thousands of people without power. Photograph: John Bender/AP
A car hangs on the collapsed bridge of the eastbound Interstate 10 freeway west of Desert Center, California. Photograph: Handout/Reuters
So far I've only talked about the west coast. El Niños can have wide ranging effects on other parts of the United States. Some of these can be good and others not so much.

Coastal communities along the U.S. East Coast may be at risk to higher sea levels accompanied by more destructive storm surges in future El Niño years, according to a new study by NOAA. The study was prompted by an unusual number of destructive storm surges along the East Coast during the 2009-2010 El Niño winter.

From 1961 to 2010, it was found that in strong El Niño years, these coastal areas experienced nearly three times the average number of storm surge events (defined as those of one foot or greater). The research also found that waters in those areas saw a third-of-a-foot elevation in mean sea level above predicted conditions.

 

Peru has already declared a state of emergency but other parts of the planet welcomes an El Niño.

Fires in southeast Asia, droughts in eastern Australia, flooding in Peru often accompany El Niño events. Much of the media coverage on El Niño has focused on the more extreme and negative consequences typically associated with the phenomenon. To be sure, the impacts can wreak havoc in some developing and developed countries alike, but El Niño events are also associated with reduced frequency of Atlantic hurricanes, warmer winter temperatures in northern half of U.S., which reduce heating costs, and plentiful spring/summer rainfall in southeastern Brazil, central Argentina and Uruguay, which leads to above-average summer crop yields.

After writing this lengthy article what will it be? Disaster or relief? We will just have to wait and see. It does mean that we will see the hottest year ever. Good luck everybody wherever you are. Hope for the best. I will be on the beach observing it all.

UPDATE–11/18/2015. The 2015 El Niño just crossed into record territory

It's been likened to Godzilla for a reason — the 2015 El Niño event, which can be found amid overheated waters of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, has crossed a threshold into record territory.

The weekly index of average temperature departures from average across the central and eastern equatorial tropical Pacific has exceeded 3 degrees Celsius, or 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit, above average for the first time since this index began in 1990, according to new data released on Monday.

This data would suggest that the El Niño that forecasters have said would rank in the top three events ever recorded, has already hit the top spot. But that's not quite the case, since official El Niño strength rankings are based on longer-term averages, specifically, a three-month average.

UPDATE–5/8/16- So did the Godzilla El Niño help relieve our drought in California? Here's the latest map.

“The storm starts, when the drops start dropping

When the drops stop dropping then the storm starts stopping.”

Dr. Seuss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Birding for the Week of November 15-16

I knew that Friday was going to be a windy day. I did my SOS Shorebird Survey on Virgin Creek Beach anyway. While conditions were bad (I recorded 21 mph max winds) it was a good day for finding shorebirds. I found a good mix of Surfbirds, Black Turnstones, and Sanderlings. Throw in a single Western Sandpiper (haven’t seen one for awhile), a few Dunlin and a Snowy Plover that had an unusual look. The Snowy Plover has an incomplete collar which can be either black or tan depending on the sex of the bird and time of season. This plover had a dark collar on it’s right side and a pale collar on it’s left side.

I have never seen this molt pattern before and don’t know if it’s common or rare. This is the first time that I’ve seen a Snowy Plover on Virgin Creek in some time. Don’t know if it’s part of the Ten Mile flock blown south or an individual wanderer. 

I wandered up to Lake Cleone after the survey but it was too windy for birding and was having a hard time keeping my hat on so I biked back to Fort Bragg for a warming Mocha and a bus ride back to Mendocino. 

Saturday at the Little River Airport I found a “Red” Fox Sparrow, a very pretty sparrow. I didn’t have a chance to get a picture of it but found one on Wikipedia that looked the same. Since it’s a subspecies I can’t count it towards my totals for the year.

Photo by: Mdf

The “Red” subspecies of the Fox Sparrow is rare on the California Coast.

I seen 246 bird species and saved over 2782 carbon producing truck miles so far this year.

 

NOTE:On Friday while I was doing my SOS Survey a Black-capped Chickadee was found by birders along the boardwalk at Lake Cleone. This would be the first record of it being seen in Mendocino County. As mentioned above I was in that area on Friday. I have the habit of turning off my cellphone when I’m out birding and if it had been on I would have received a call from my wife noting that she had received two calls about the chickadee. Since I only received word of it when I got home and I am on a “green” birding year I couldn’t just turn around and drive to Lake Cleone to chase it. In fact the next known time I can chase it will be Wednesday morning. This brings up the urges in a birder to chase or “twitch” a bird. They can be very powerful and causes birders to do strange things. I have been trying to calm my urges to chase birds but this chickadee made them flow. The chickadee has not been refound as of this date. The following clip from one of my favorite books made into a movie explains the feelings I went through:-) Imagine the “Ring” as the Black-capped Chickadee and I am Galadriel passing the “test”

Ten Mile Beach Project Update

Ten_Mile_looking_South.JPG

I have written about the Ten Mile Beach Project by California State Parks several times. The most recent was this post. At the end of that post I stated, “UPDATE—-Snowy Plovers win. Mendocino County Supervisors voted 3 to 2 to deny the appeal. Opponents of the State Parks project plan to appeal to the California Coastal Commission.”

The opponents did appeal their objections to the California Coastal Commission. On Wednesday, the Coastal Commission found that the opponents of the project raised no substantial issues.

 “a. Appeal No. A-1-MEN-13-0241 (California Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR), Mendocino Co.) [ADDENDUM] Appeal by Thad M. Van Buren, Stanley Anderson, and Eric & Deborah Freeman from decision of Mendocino County granting permit with conditions to DPR for dune restoration project involving: (1) removal of asphalt and gravel base in 3 segments of former Georgia Pacific Haul Rd., totaling 2.7 miles; (2) stream channel restoration associated with removal of 2 road culvert creek crossings along Haul Rd.; and (3) treatment of European beachgrass and other nonnative weeds within project area, on west side of Hwy 1, located in MacKerricher State Park, north of Ward Ave., in community of Cleone to Ten Mile River, Mendocino County. (TG-A) [NO SUBSTANTIAL ISSUE FOUND]”

This means that the project can proceed. Snowy Plovers and a natural preserve win!

 

Curlew Sandpiper, 10 Mile Beach, and Gas Usage

I’m creating a pattern. Every time I have to gas up and run errands in town I walk 10 Mile Beach. I went 50 days between fill ups this time. 56 is my record but 50 is still well above average. I got to Ward Ave a little after 8:00AM. On the rocks just to the south I found 2 first year Red Knots. They were actually a little friendly, a trait I find in many first year birds. This was the first time that I’ve found 2 together. All of my sightings of Red Knots have been single birds. I love the pressed aluminum effect of the feathers on their backs.

These 2 birds were with a flock of Surfbirds and a few Black Turnstones. I have not seen many Surfbirds yet this year. Moving north on the beach and just about even with the end of the of the Haul Rd. I came upon a Black Turnstone and a very “bright” shorebird larger then a peep. Moving closer I noticed that it had a downcurved bill much like a Dunlin but I’ve seen many Dunlin and I knew it wasn’t one. I noticed it’s long black legs and that it was only a little smaller than the Black Turnstone and maybe taller.

A closer look at the bird.

After about four pictures the sandpiper joined a flock of shorebirds flying south. I pondered what it was. I checked the Sibley Bird App on my Itouch. As I continued my walk north on the beach I began to think that I had seen a Curlew Sandpiper but I had not seen the diagnostic white rump. A later review of one of the pictures revealed it’s white rump peeking through it’s wings.

According to “Rare Birds of California” a book by the California Bird Records Committee (CBRC), Curlew Sandpipers, “breeds across arctic Siberia, casually in Norther Alaska.The species winters widely in the Old World, as far north as the British Isles but mostly along tropical and subtropical coasts from sub-Saharan Africa through southern Asia to Australia.” “Since 1971 records have averaged nearly one per year…” Obviously this is one rare bird.

I continued my walk north finding a Pectoral Sandpiper not too much further and then a pair of Baird’s Sandpipers after that. A pair of Baird’s Sandpipers have been on Ten Mile Beach for over 4 weeks. Further still I came upon a banded Snowy Plover that looked injured. I took some pictures. It was limping badly holding one foot up. I call Becky Bowen of SOS and reported it and continued north. Sometime later at Ten Mile River I realized that I had messages on my phone. Service is spotty out there. I called Becky and she said that there was a team of State Parks people working on the Haul Rd. project and that Adam Hutchins had been sent to find and assess the plover. It might be helpful if I could meet him and point out the location which is what I did. He needed is binoculars from his truck so I plover sat for a while keeping one eye on the plover and one eye looking for Blue-footed Boobies that have been invading the California Coast. Adam assessed the plover and with the help of my pictures determined that one of the bands was partially off and pinching the joint between the foot and leg. He made plans to come back the next day for another look. I told him I would download the pictures of the plover and email them. Before I left I told him about the Curlew Sandpiper and I think he was impressed. 

UPDATE: Good news. I received word from Adam the next day that the band had come off and the Snowy Plover was using the leg normally. 

 

 

 

Crow City–How Smart are Corvids?

Corvids are a family of birds that include crows, ravens, jays, nutcrackers and magpies. You may note that in the movies ravens and crows are normally associated with evil. The evil witch or sorcerer such as in “The Lord of the Rings” or “Snow White and the Huntsman”. They are portrayed as surviving very well in apocalyptic movies. Those who work with Snowy Plovers here on the West Coast view them the same way. 100% of Mendocino County’s Snowy Plover chicks this year were depredated by the Common Raven. 

North American Birds online states:

Impacts On Prey Populations

Over a 10-yr period in California, ravens took 1.2% of 5,708 eggs of the endangered Least Tern (Avery et al. 1993). Ravens primarily take juvenile desert tortoises, a threatened species, with carapace length ranging in size from 32 to 105 mm ± 19.94 SD (mean = 67.1, n = 341, WIB); the level of predation may be sufficient to prevent recruitment in declining populations (Congdon et al. 1993). In Oregon, 14% (95/674) of Greater Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) nests were depre-dated by ravens from 1966 to 1981 (Littlefield 1986). In Arizona, 37% of 282 Pinyon Jay (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) nests were depredated by either ravens or American Crows (Marzluff 1988). Ravens preyed on breeding western toads at 3 of 15 breeding aggregations, eating >20% of the breeders at one aggregation in California (Olson 1989). Ravens and American Crows ate so many eggs at several Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) and Ring-billed Gull (L. delawarensis) colonies that they may have been responsible for complete failure of three colonies (Ewins 1991). Predation by ravens is thought to explain the high degree of nesting synchrony in Common Murres (Uria aalge; Murphy and Schauer 1996). In a Thick-billed Murre (U. lomvia) colony, ravens were responsible for <10% of the breeding failures (Gaston et al. 1985).

 

There is no doubt that corvids are some of the smartest animals on the planet. With climate change endangering our bird populations it appears that Corvids will do just fine. I came across this YouTube video on Grist and thought it was interesting.

“In an age of boom­ing cities, ris­ing tem­per­a­tures, and van­ish­ing wildlife, there’s at least one crit­ter that’s doing just fine: the hum­ble crow. But if it weren’t for us, they wouldn’t have it near­ly so good”

 

Please don’t encourage the growing populations of ravens and crows by feeding them. Keep your trash covered.

The Weeks Birding and Totals

Most of my birding efforts lately have been on the coast looking for shorebirds, gulls, and terns. I will start going back over the hill to Ukiah next month searching for inland migrants.

Ten Mile Beach was wall to wall shorebirds this last Thursday. It was quite a change from the week before. Western and Least Sandpipers were all over the beach and larger flocks of Sanderlings are starting to appear. Sandpiper adults migrate earlier then immatures and we saw large flocks of adults earlier. They seem more organized than the young sandpipers that seem to wander all over. There was also what looked to be a juvenile Ruddy Turnstone. Compare this photo with the one here.

While I did not see any new birds on Ten Mile I did find a banded Snowy Plover that was new to me.   I keep a collection of Snowy Plover leg pictures and compare them season to season. 

Every time I report these banded birds they tell me, “Richard that’s a returning bird that been seen out there for the last three years are you blind?” Well, actually they don’t say that but I think it’s implied. Then there’s the color blindness. When I report red they say it’s orange. Is it light blue or aqua? Green or lime? They have even given me a band color chart but it doesn’t alway help. I believe this color combination is YOY:Y (left leg first). Y for yellow and O for orange.  Time will tell.

Friday I did my SOS (Save Our Shorebirds) Survey. After getting off my bike I did a quick scan of Virgin Creek and found no shorebirds. The reason why was a Peregrine Falcon sitting on the beach next to the creek. After it left, a White-tailed Kite flew over the south bluffs. I thought it would be a poor day for a shorebird survey. I was wrong. Virgin Creek Beach, like Ten Mile Beach, was covered with peeps. It was hard to get an accurate count. Most of the shorebirds were again Western and Least Sandpipers. One of my favorite shorebirds are the Phalaropes. They are are so fragile looking but many make their living out on the ocean. After the falcon left 4 Red-necked Phalaropes made their way to the creek.

When we survey we also report dead birds we find on the beach. I found this Pink-footed Shearwater.

Pink-footed Shearwaters are a species in decline. There is a program that is tracking this species using tiny transmitters…”they can only be found on 3 Chilean islands dur­ing breed­ing sea­son (Isla mocha, Robin­son Cru­soe, and Santa Clara). Their biggest known threats include pre­da­tion by non-native mam­mals, entanglement/hooking by fish­ing gear, habi­tat destruc­tion, and the ille­gal har­vest­ing of eggs. Because of this, the Pink-footed Shear­wa­ter is a listed as a species of con­cern in sev­eral countries.” Judging from the tracking records it would appear that only 2 of the 6 bird’s transmitters are still working. 

Once again no new birds at Virgin Creek.

For my birding at the Little River Airport I actually had a couple of rare birds appear. Unfortunately they are only rare at the airport. They are the Acorn Woodpecker and the Western Scrub-Jay. It’s been a long time since I’ve written about the airport so you can link back to it here.

Totals are still 227 birds seen but over 1851 truck miles saved. 

Impressed by Audubon Society

I received an email this morning from Audubon California about a local issue right here in Mendocino County. I must say that I’m impressed with the cooperation between the Mendocino Coast Audubon Society and Audubon California. I’ve written about the issue briefly in this post on Ten Mile Beach. The email take you to this “take action” site called, “Tell Mendocino County to keep their promise to the Western Snowy Plover.” From there you can send your comments to the Mendocino County Supervisors. 

Any Mendocino County residents reading this blog and cares about Snowy Plovers and the natural state of our environment  should take advantage of this site before the county board’s next meeting this Monday.

I sent this message:

“Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the motion to appeal the Coastal Development Permit 12-2011 for the Ten Mile Dunes Restoration project.
 
I support the project as planned by California State Parks and permitted under the Mendocino County Local Coastal Program, and ask the Board of Supervisors to deny the request for appeal of that permit.
 
I have been walking the Ten Mile Beach for some years now. I have encountered many different people during my walks. They are young, old and in between. They ride horses, they fish, they collect shells, they bird, they run, and they walk. All of these people are on the beach. That is where the action is. I encounter few people in the dunes. Most of them are state parks personnel and the others are people that live in the area that take their own private trails to the beach. You can see those trails on Google Earth. Why not ask these people to work with state parks to open up their private trails to the public?
 
The area in question is a ” natural preserve” and is unique and special. It doesn’t need a haul road or boardwalk. The next thing people will be asking for will be bathroom facilities and scooter battery charging sites. Nor do hikers of the California Coastal Trail need a haul road or boardwalk. I include a clip from their website:
 
“One can make their way along the entire California coast finding trails through state, national and local parks, walking the sand or cobbles on beaches, and traipsing sidewalks or going along gingerly at the edge of rural roads and urban highways.  In some instances the way is blocked by private property or government facilities; in others it is blocked by water.  In some cases, one must go far inland.  But it can be done.”
 
I support the mission of the Coastal Commission to provide public access to California’s beaches, and am confident that California State Parks will provide that access even with removal of the remnant sections of road in the plan.
 
Let there be some “natural” places left in California and let them be here in Mendocino.”
 
Richard Hubacek
 
 
UPDATE—-Snowy Plovers win. Mendocino County Supervisors voted 3 to 2 to deny the appeal. Opponents of the State Parks project plan to appeal to the California Coastal Commission.